Selecting the Best Ball for Your Game
Choosing the right golf ball for your game is extremely important. By taking time to pick out the right ball, you will be putting yourself a step ahead of the competition.
There are a number of factors to consider when picking a golf ball; including spin rate, compression rating, cover firmness, and more. The key is to match your skills with the right golf ball. This is certainly not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation – a ball that is all wrong for your game may be perfect for another player.
The best way to find the right golf ball for your game is to start by narrowing down the field. There are tons of golf balls on the market today, but many may not be the best fit for your game. Once you have narrowed down the list to a few contenders, pick up a sleeve of each for some on-course testing. By seeing how each of your options works under actual golf conditions, will help you select the best ball for your game.
What are USGA Conforming Golf Balls?
All of the balls in the fitting engine above are USGA Conforming Balls.
As the name would indicate, USGA conforming golf balls are models which have passed testing by the USGA. These golf balls have the specifications required for use in official golf competitions. While you do want to play with a ball that is USGA conforming, you shouldn’t have to look too hard to find such a model – most of the balls on the market today are USGA conforming.
If you would like to check the conforming status for any specific golf ball model, visit the following link – USGA Conforming Golf Ball List.
What Does Short Iron Spin Rating Mean for Your Game?
For most players, a golf ball with a high short iron spin rating is going to be a good thing. On these shorter shots, you don’t have to worry about the ball spinning from side to side – so the higher spin rate is going to be delivered almost exclusively in terms of backspin. With that being the case, a ball with plenty of short iron spin is going to help you bring your approach shots to a stop as quickly as needed to attack the flag.
With that said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If you are a player who already puts a lot of spin on the ball – due to a high swing speed and a downward angle of attack – you may not want to have your ball contributing too much to your spin rate. Excessive spin on your short irons will make it difficult to keep the ball on the green, and you may find that playing approach shots in the wind becomes extremely difficult.
To summarize, the average golfer will be well-served by a ball which provides a high rate of spin on the short irons. However, those who already spin the ball at a high rate without the help of the ball should look for moderate to low-spin options.
Basics of Golf Ball Construction
Golf ball construction can be a complicated topic, but we will attempt to outline the basics for you quickly in this section. One of the most important topics to understand with regard to golf ball design is the use of layers. Modern golf balls are built in layers, with anywhere from two to five layers seen in their construction.
- Two Piece Golf Balls. Generally, two-layer golf balls are the beginner, game improvement models. These are not high end balls, and they come with an affordable price tag as a result. If you are a beginning golfer, or you have been playing for a while but still struggle to break 100, a two-layer ball is probably the right choice. Typically, the core of the ball will be made from rubber, while the cover will be plastic or urethane.
- Three Piece Golf Balls. Golf balls with three layers usually come in around the middle of the market in terms of price. These balls will offer more spin and ‘playability’ than two-piece balls, but they don’t quite have the performance of the high-end four or five-piece options. For the bulk of the amateur golfing population, the three-piece ball is going to be an appropriate choice.
- Four and Five-Piece Golf Balls. Pro golfers and accomplished amateurs are the target market for these kinds of golf balls. You will find plenty of spin with these models, but you will have to know how to control that spin properly in order to achieve great results. Before you spend the money required to purchase a box of four or five-piece golf balls, make sure your game is up to the challenge that these models present.
Beyond the number of layers, you can get into a variety of other topics related to ball construction such as core materials, cover materials, dimple patterns, and on and on. Realistically, these topics are not particularly important to the average golfer. As long as you find a model which fits your skill level – and your budget – you should be ready for the first tee.
Are Expensive Golf Balls Better than Cheap Balls?
Simply put, no – expensive golf balls are not better than cheap golf balls. Expensive golf balls are, however, different than cheap golf balls, so it is important to know the difference when shopping. Generally speaking, it works like this – expensive golf balls, which are marketed to better players, offer higher spin rates, high compression, and soft feel around the greens. On the other hand, cheap golf balls usually feel quite hard around the greens, they often have a lower compression, and they don’t spin much.
The right ball for you is going to depend on your skill set at this point in time. Are you able to control your ball consistently as you make your way around the course? If so, you might be ready for a high-end ball. That will not be the case for most golfers, however. The average player is going to be better served by a less expensive model. With a lower spin rate and easier distance, cheap golf balls are the best bet for the typical 90s or 100s player.
How Much Should You Pay for Golf Balls?
The amount of money you should be willing to spend on a box of golf balls will depend on your skills on the golf course. If you are an accomplished player with a single digit handicap, you are going to need to purchase a premium golf ball – which usually means spending $35 or more per dozen. On the other hand, if you are a relatively new golfer and you rarely break 100, your focus should be placed on value. In this case, you can buy a decent box of balls for less than $20 without any trouble.
Selecting the Right Golf Ball Color
Just a few years ago, your choices for golf ball color pretty much came down to white – and that’s it. However, things have changed in recent years, as more and more ball manufacturers are offering a variety of colors to pick from. So, which should you choose? This is one of those things that comes down to personal preference more than anything else. There won’t be any kind of performance difference between colors, so opt for the ball that is most visually appealing to you.
Perhaps surprisingly, the traditional white golf ball seems to be the easiest to spot while playing a round. You might think that something bright such as orange or pink would stand out as it flies toward the target, but that is not always the case. If you sometimes struggle to see your golf ball, you will probably be best served by sticking with the standard white option.
How to Estimate Your Golf Swing Speed
The best way to determine your swing speed would be to visit a professional club fitter who can measure your swing on a device called a launch monitor. However, if you are not going to take that step just yet, you should be able to roughly estimate your swing speed by using your average driving distance. It should be noted that this option is never going to be perfect, as there are a number of factors which will affect your distance other than swing speed, but this can serve as a good starting point.
If you typically carry your drives approximately 215 yards, your swing speed will likely be right around 90 miles per hour. If you move that carry distance out to 240 yards, your swing speed may come in at 100 MPH. Tour players are usually in the 110 to 120 MPH range, which places their carry distances with the driver at anywhere from 265 – 290 yards. Once you have a solid estimate on your swing speed, use that number to pick out a golf ball which is going to be suitable for your game.
What Are Golf Ball Compression Ratings?
Compression is a measurement of a golf ball’s ability to be compressed at impact. When you strike the ball with your driver – or any club, for that matter – the ball will be compressed down to a fraction of its original size. This compression only lasts for an instant, of course, as the ball quickly regains its shape before heading off into the distance.
At one time, golf ball compression ratings were frequently featured right on the side of the ball. While that is no longer commonplace, compression does remain an important concept for the average golfer to understand. In order to maximize both distance and performance, you want your swing speed to match up with the compression rating of your ball. Players with a high swing speed – something in the 100s – will want a high compression ball to match. Likewise, players with a low or mid-level swing speed will need a ball that has a compression at the appropriate level.
The Best Golf Balls for Beginners
Beginning golfers often make the mistake of thinking they need to purchase the most expensive golf balls on the market. Not only would this be a waste of money, it would actually be harmful to the progress of your game as a beginner. If you fit into this category, you should be looking for a distance ball which comes in on the lower range of the price spectrum. Higher priced balls are going to spin more than cheaper options, and extra spin is not a good thing for you at this point. Check out these selections for the best golf balls for beginners.
While golf is an expensive game, you actually can save a bit of money early on by following this advice. Buy affordable boxes of distance balls when just getting started in golf, and gradually work your way up the spectrum as your skills improve. You will eventually need to buy more expensive models once you have the ability to control your spin, but save those purchases for a later date.
The Best Golf Balls for Seniors
For senior golfers, the biggest battle tends to come down to swing speed. We all lose our swing speed gradually as we age, so you need to make sure you are picking out a ball which matches up with your current abilities. Usually, senior players will benefit from a ball with a relatively soft compression, as such a ball will return solid distance from even modest swing speed. Check out this guide on the best golf balls for seniors.
Within the category of golf balls with softer compressions, you can still pick from a range of options depending on your skill level. It is okay to use a ball with a high spin rate if you are a quality player, but look for something lower on the spin scale if you have trouble controlling your shots. Either way, make sure the ball you pick is not too firm for your swing. You don’t want to have to force extra swing speed just to get the ball off the ground – having to fight your golf ball is never going to lead to positive results.